Saturday, November 24, 2012

Its a girl! a boy! another boy!

It took six hours of gnashing of teeth, chewing bedclothes, grunting, and hyperventilating before Shona delivered her first pup- and we are just describing her human parents here. Shona Bhaloo endured it like a champion- though she did rip up a carpet and her basket to relieve her feelings.

It was a proud moment when the first pup emerged at 5am today- though I took one look at the flat head and the protruding tongue through its sac and wailed 'it's dead'. Her (the first one was a girl) mother knew better and ripped, licked, nudged till the little one began clamouring lustily for a drink. The second popped out thirty minutes later. And that, we thought was that. We kept checking on the little family and finally napped for a half hour. When we woke, behold! there were three.

So that's the tally now. One black female, two grey males, one tired mother.

And here is  the only decent photo of the night. Nervous cameraperson + bad lighting + excited subject = disastrous snaps.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I do

A conversation I have every single time I meet someone new in the village

'So, do you work for____ (insert name of NGO)?'
'No, I work from home. Most of my work can be done over the internet.'
'So what is it that you do?'
'I write about water and related issues- like the forest.'
'Ah. you do research.'
'Not exactly, no. I present other peoples work on this website I work for.'
Blank stare
'Its like being a journalist.'
'Ah. So you report on the elections and all.'
'Not exactly..its mainly about water.'
'It helps people understand, to plan better

Now don't get me wrong- I am a staunch proponent of stories for stories' sake, for data for data's sake. I also think that online portals and research organizations have a stunningly important role to play in stopping the world from going entirely to ruin (or atleast slowing the process).

But talking to a farmer tends to give one an entirely different perspective on things.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It looks like a planetarium

We were all laying on our backs in the sand. This was the largest sand dune within a day's drive of Jaisalmer, about 40 km from The Border, by which all India means the border with Pakistan. The sun had just set, and we were looking at the stars appear one by one till the Milky Way stood out strong and clear just above us. That is  when my colleague likened the vast dome above us  to a planetarium.

For the last 20 km, our driver had been telling us to watch out for Ranau. It is a most cute little desert village, he told us. He reminded us again when we crested the last hill before the village. All of us gasped on cue. My thought? It looks like a Star Wars set.

Confronted with startling beauty, the two of us reacted in the same way. The only way we could make sense of what we saw was by linking it to our childhood. The only way we could refrain from being overwhelmed enough to hide under our blankies  was by associating these sights with our childhood experiences. Does anyone else see any irony in that?

Even the camel's laughing at us.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We have everything here

That statement sounds like a boast- what made me stop and think is the detail of where I heard it. Not in the super-stocked aisles of Delhi, and not in the lush Konkan where you can't see the trees for the fruit.
I heard that statement (and other versions of it) while talking to people who live in this landscape:

And where this is considered to be a field so lush people are brought in from miles to see it:

Walking around in the north-west of  Jaisalmer district, I listened as people counted their blessings over and over again. I listened as they thanked the fates for receiving 20 mm of rain this year. I heard them extoll the virtues of the milk  their goats provide, of how the sweetness varies with the herbs the goats eat. I was stopped at nearly every bush, every plant while my hosts told me of all that it provides them. I tasted the sweetest berries, drank the most live-giving water. The well overflows, I was informed. We have more than enough.

Contentment is a quality I like to think I have, one that I consciously cultivate in myself. But contentment I now know is more than virtuously refusing to complain. It is honestly exulting in the life that we lead. I do it, but not enough. I need to practice.

I have more than enough.